Top 15 of the 2000s


7 Dic 2009, 0:23

There are far too many great albums that I left off my top of the decade list, but I can't see not including anything I have here. These are the albums I have listened to most, which seems the surest indicator of favorite. I couldn't bring myself to go so far as to limit each artist to one album, but in an effort to avoid seeming like a complete obsessive and to get more great artists on the list, I did limit it to two. No 2009 albums and I was extra hard on 2008. This was out of a pool of 1,185 full-length, studio albums I own, which were released between 2000-2008.

1.Okkervil River - Don't Fall in Love With Everyone You See (2002)
From the attention-grabbing opening lines of “Red is my favorite color; red like your mother’s eyes after awhile of crying about how you don’t love her,” through the modern murder ballad classic of "Westfall" and finishing with birds tweeting along the desolate Okkervil River, this is a perfect album. Over time, my favorite album switches between this, Down the River, the Appendix, and even, occasionally, Stars. So in ranking I chose the frequency with which each of the albums is a favorite. This is the last of the albums where Will’s voice frequently wails and breaks -- something that puts a lot of people off, but I love even more than his new, "better" voice. This is their alt-country album (each Okkervil album has a distinct identity).

2.Okkervil River - Down the River of Golden Dreams (2003)
Though none of the albums do the verse-chorus-verse thing, there’s something more complex about the lyrics on this album than any of the others -- at least, it took me a lot longer to learn the words to many of these songs than any of the others. A more restrained album than previously and the only one since Don’t Fall In Love to not be produced by Brian Beattie. The strings are great, even more impressive as they were written by Sheff and Meiburg in just a few hours when neither of them have any idea how to write music. This is their orch-pop album.

3.Dolorean - Not Exotic (2003)
Best $2.00 I ever spent, and if I hadn't seen they were playing around the corner from me hours before I saw this album in the sale bin I may never have found one of my favorite bands. This is some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard.

4.Dolorean - Violence in the Snowy Fields (2004)
Slightly more poppy than Not Exotic and with a whole lot more religious references -- Bible used as literature rather than to sermonize. Another beauty. If I ever get married, “Dying In Time,” will be played at my wedding.

5.I Am Kloot - Gods and Monsters (2005)
Musically and lyrically a blend of the ordinary and extraordinary. It’s very lowkey and at the same time so produced as to have many varied sounds each contributing to create a very deliberate mood depending on the song. Love John Bramwell’s voice as well.

6.Social Distortion - Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll (2004)
There’s something about this album that, in the postcard poll, even people with little to no other rock albums listed, were ranking this one (the only other rock album in my list is British Sea Power). I think the country music influence is so deep with Ness than even when his songs don’t sound especially country there’s something that comes through. This is almost just a super-charged roots rock album. Great lyrics as well; it’s nice when an artist gets older and writes songs that reflect the age they are.

7.Jens Lekman - When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog (2004)
Lekman has always released a collection of songs rather than a deliberately planned album. This one happens to have more of my favorite songs than any of the others. One of the best lyricists today; the fact that he’s not writing in his native Swedish makes his ability to write so uniquely and beautifully more amazing…or maybe that’s what allows him to write the way he does. The phrasing and stories he tells are ordinary, but sound like poetry. “Turn on the radio, clean the windows. Do it in slow-mo, as the day unfolds. Oh how the sun shines inside you, just like I do. These days are gold.”

8.Otis Gibbs - Grandpa Walked a Picket Line (2008)
I don’t know if it’s Otis himself or the production and players -- probably both -- but, while none of his albums would be out of place on this list, there’s just something a little better about this album than his others. The pedal steel is particularly wonderful. It seems like Otis has honed his ability to write a very specific song that feels so universal. He’s got something really unique in his voice which can only be described as both scratchy AND smooth with just a hint of a southern accent.

9.Grey Delisle - Homewrecker (2002)
I’m so disappointed that Grey doesn’t like performing live and, without doing that, it’s pretty much impossible to keep releasing albums. Maybe one day she’ll release another one anyway. She has such a beautiful voice and some really great songwriting. The Graceful Ghost is an album I love, but I like the greater variation of vocal delivery on this one. So many great songs, two of my favorites being “Beautiful Mistake” about a woman giving her baby up for adoption and “The Hole” about being in love with a drug addict.

10.Thelonious Monster - California Clam Chowder (2004)
Beautiful Mess was a desert island disc for me at the time this came out. But they hadn’t released an album in over 10 years so I definitely didn’t have high hopes for this. Boy was I wrong. 15 songs, each of which has some inspiration taken from its namesake, e.g. “The Curtis Mayfield Song,” “The Rolling Stones ’77 Song” and finishing with a bonus track of “Rainy Days And Mondays.”

11.Geoff Berner - We Shall Not Flag or Fail, We Shall Go On to the End (2003)
Throw together folk and punk, but with the added twist that his instrument -- the predominant one on the album -- is accordion. Some of his songs are in-your-face political, but those and many others tend to be written very humorously with titles like “Porn Queen Girlfriend” and “The Way That Girl Drinks Beer.”

12.Frog Holler - Idiots (2001)
As their recordings have continued, their bluegrass influence has diminished to almost nonexistence. It was still pretty strong on this album, yet the songwriting had improved from the also-great Adams Hotel Road, leaving Idiots as my favorite Frog Holler album. Lots of tempo and mood variations to keep things interesting.

13.The Coup - Pick A Bigger Weapon (2006)
The Coup first came to my attention when I saw Boots Riley backed only by a bassist on the Tell Us The Truth Tour in 2003. This is the first album I bought of theirs and remains my favorite. Since then I have been trying more and more hip-hop, but I have yet to find anything I like anywhere near what I feel for this. I don’t exactly know why The Coup stand head and shoulders above the rest. One thing is they seem a little more melodic, less electronic beat driven, than much of what I heard. And the melody is funky rather than the smooth R&B that’s so popular these days. Lyrically he is witty at the same time as makes serious commentary on life in the U.S. And, importantly, he delivers those words clearly. Even the skits are kept brief so they add their humor without dragging.

14.Frida Hyvönen - Until Death Comes (2006)
Another Swede with a gift for words, though quite different than Jens. Her primary instrument is piano. An extremely feminine album, yet doesn’t fall into the Lillith-Fair type category of artist, which tends not to appeal to me.

15.British Sea Power - The Decline of British Sea Power (2003)
BSP have released several good albums, but none have matched the greatness of this first album -- at least partially because none have had the same intensity and uniqueness. I’ve never really known how to describe this album, I think because I’m not familiar enough with 80’s Brit music of which they are heavily influenced. Angular is the singular word I would use to describe the album, but I couldn’t tell you exactly what I mean by that.

My next group of favorites from the decade include:
16.Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy / Appendix (2005) (really #4)
17.Okkervil River - Stars Too Small To Use (2000) (really #6)
18.Karen Poston - Real Bad (2001)
19.ballboy - A Guide for the Daylight Hours (2003)
20.Ladyhawk - Ladyhawk (2006)
21.The Weakerthans - Reconstruction Site (2003)
22.Naked Omaha - The Blue Route (2005)
23.Two Gallants - What The Toll Tells (2006)
24.Nick Cave - No More Shall We Part (2001)
25.The Foundry Field Recordings - Prompts/Miscues (2006)
26.Josh Ritter - The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter (2007)
27.Rock Plaza Central - The World Was Hell To Us (2003)
28.Mission Of Burma - ONoffON (2004)
29.Teddy Thompson - A Piece Of What You Need (2008) (in time there’s a good chance this album will make the list)
30.Frank Turner - Love Ire & Song (2008) (in time there’s a good chance this album will make the list)

Go to to download a mix consisting of one song from each of these albums.

01. Red - Okkervil River
02. The War Criminal Rises And Speaks - Okkervil River
03. So You're A Touring Band Now - Dolorean
04. Dying In Time - Dolorean
05. Sand And Glue - I Am Kloot
06. Nickels And Dimes - Social Distortion
07. You Are The Light (By Which I Travel Through This And That) - Jens Lekman
08. Caroline - Otis Gibbs
09. The Hole - Grey DeLisle
10. The Big Star Song - Thelonious Monster
11. Beautiful In My Eyes
12. Spiders & Planes - Frog Holler
13. My Favorite Mutiny - The Coup
14. Straight Thin Line - Frida Hyvönen
15. Remember Me - British Sea Power
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Postcard From Hell


  • mintroyalty

    Great list! Dolorean, Okkervil, and Brit. Sea Power are consistently delightful

    20 Nov 2010, 22:04
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